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Carolina On My Mind
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Here I am, 7:40 a.m. Eastern time, writing on Heather laptop (on battery power) while she sleeps on in my brother's room upstairs. I've got the computer on battery power, since there's thunder rumbling in the distance, and a morning thunderstorm is reminder enough that I'm not in my accustomed place, the lightning-less Bay Area.

It's the morning of our second day here, and I'm writing next to my mother, who is working on her laptop, while her husband gets ready for work, and a dog sleeps by my feet (a fat dog, like a beer keg with legs), and my brother and his girlfriend sleep nearby on an air mattress in the living room. My sister is somewhere upstairs, though she may not be sleeping; one can never quite guess what my sister might be doing.

The trip out on Saturday was only somewhat hellish. Delays and a cancelled connecting flight made us arrive three hours later than expected, which was too bad, but on the long flight we were seated in an exit row, which was good. And my iPod made the flight much more bearable than it would have been otherwise. They lost our luggage, of course, but they delivered it at a reasonable hour on Sunday morning, so all is well.

We drove from the Norfolk airport to my mom's house, near Kitty Hawk. My grandmother drove, and we all chatted as we drove beneath a hugely bright moon. We got to the house and introductions were made all around, brother, sister, mom's husband, grandfather, dog, cats, bird, ferret. The frogs chirruped and burped nearby, sounding like geese, and later my mom had to chase a frog around the living room as it jumped from place to place with its sticky feet clingling; she did catch it and repatriate it to the outdoors. It was wonderful seeing everyone. Heather and I were not long for consciousness, though.

We rose Sunday around 11:30, my mother unable to let us sleep any later in her excitement about our visit, though I reminded her it was only 8:30 our time. Ah, well; the better to help us adjust to the new time zone. After a breakfast of fruit and coffee we went for a swim in my mother's nicely palatial 24-foot-diameter pool. The humidity here is like a wet wool suit, but I find it strangely familiar and comforting, and all the old insect-avoidance tactics have come back to me, fundamental early training re-asserting itself with ease. In the afternoon I went with Heather, my sister, and my grandparents to the beach at Kitty Hawk, and we stepped into the (sadly rather cold) Atlantic for a bit. Then we headed for a gift shop (where Heather bought a beach towel the size of a bedspread, and I acquired a smaller one with pictures of frogs on it), and did some other shopping before heading home.

For dinner mom and her husband John made a fine spread, grilled chicken, potato salad, spaghetti squash, salad. John's parents visited from Elizabeth City, so we had a full house. After dinner Heather and I went for a swim, later joined by my sister and brother and my brother's girlfriend, and we swam into the night (there's a light in the pool, and the nights are quite warm), with bugs the only problem.

It is peaceful. It is a vacation. I got an idea for a screenplay, and I may have to learn how to write screenplays so I can write it; I don't think it would work well as a story or novel, and you have to use the form that fits. I finished reading Maul; I am well into The Wasp Factory, which is a marvel of language and point-of-view, one of the most thoroughly engrossing reading experiences I've had in a long time.

Reconnecting with my siblings is wonderful. My sister knows vast amounts about manga and anime, and I fortunately know enough to have good conversations with her about it regarding the relative merits of Miyazaki or Ghost in the Shell, to make jokes about the problems encountered in early manga translations when the right-to-left facing pages were reversed for American consumption. And my brother is my new musical guru. Once upon a time I tried to turn him on to good local music, to show him the greatness of indie, punk, occasional emo; but, as the saying goes, the pupil has surpassed the master, and he now knows far more about current music than I do (since I'm an old man of 27, and he's a college-attending 20-year-old, that is not surprising). I only recognize one in three bands that he mentions, but he's able to show me the interfamilial lineages of each, and how they share members or some pedigree with bands I love, or else he tells me a touchstone sound so that I can place these until-now-uneard-of bands in my own mental context. I will, needless to say, be raiding his music in the near future. And my mother is wonderful too -- funny, smart, kind. I'm glad to be here. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed everyone.

My grandparents left early this morning, and after they said goodbye I couldn't get back to sleep, so here I am. I hope you're all well out there in the world in this first week of August. I am.

Over at Strange Horizons, Greg Beatty has posted his annual Cambell Nominee article, in which he says some kind things about me and the other nominees, and makes his predictions. He's probably right that I won't win. My money's on Karin Lowachee, for what it's worth, though if any of the short story writers win, I suspect it will be Jay Lake, since more fans are more likely to have read his fine stories, as he has published far more and in far more venues than David Levine or I. It's a good article, though it comes too late to influence the voting. (I suppose SH prefers to be non-partisan? Or Beatty wants to test his predictive powers without the possibility of influencing things? I don't know what the scheduling motivation was...)

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